Re’Shawna Stone spent four years with the women’s basketball team at Glenville State in West Virginia, and reached an apex when the Pioneers won this year’s Division II national championship.
Stone knew there was more out there for her, though, and she entered the transfer portal after the season ended.
Zakiyah Winfield, Stone’s teammate, felt the same way. Winfield entered the transfer portal after four seasons at Glenville State, wanting to join a program with an established culture of winning.
Johnson, a second-team all-Western New York girls basketball selection as a senior in 2018, will join the Bulls as a transfer from Towson, but her path back to Buffalo has made two stops and taken a life-changing detour.
Stone and Winfield are two of five transfers who will join the University at Buffalo women’s basketball program for the 2022-23 season. They come with a winning pedigree and with an extra year of eligibility.
The NCAA granted athletes in winter sports an extra year of eligibility in October of 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stone and Winfield each has one extra year to play college basketball, and both wanted to play at the Division I level.
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Neither planned their next step as teammates, but they will be part of a new Bulls lineup in Becky Burke’s first season as UB’s head coach.
“We accomplished so many things at Glenville State, and I wanted to play at the next level,” said Stone, a 5-foot-6 guard from Waynesville, Mo. “Becky, she was one of the first coaches to call me, as soon as I entered the portal, and she said, ‘I just got the job at Buffalo.’ ”
Both Stone and Winfield played against Burke’s teams in the Mountain East Conference, made up primarily of Division II programs in West Virginia, when Burke was the head coach at the University of Charleston from 2018-20.
“She’s a familiar face,” Stone said. “I’ve played against her, I know her coaching style, and I definitely trust her. Buffalo has been a great basketball program, and the fit just felt right.”
As transfers, Stone and Winfield will join forward and Cardinal O’Hara graduate Kiara Johnson (Towson/Eastern Michigan), and guards Chellia Watson (USC Upstate) and Latrice Perkins (College of Charleston).
Burke’s work at smaller programs, whether it was coaching, training or sorting through uniforms, helped her establish winning cultures.
They’re ready to help Burke craft the Bulls into her own program. Burke was hired from USC Upstate in April to take over UB, which won the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship and earned a berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Burke’s biggest task this offseason is to restock UB’s lineup after at least seven players from the 2021-22 roster entered the transfer portal following Syracuse’s hire of former Bulls coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
“I liked how she was a player, herself,” Johnson said of Burke, who was a guard at Louisville from 2008-12. “She was a great player, and she’s very active with practices. You don’t see a lot of that – she is very hands on, she will get on the court and shoot and play you. And she’s very serious when it comes to keeping UB alive. She told us, ‘Let’s win a ring. We’re new here, I’m bringing new people – but we’ve got to win.’ ”
Stone averaged 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals in 36 games for the Pioneers, and was named the Division II National Player of the Year by World Exposure Report, an online women’s basketball publication. She was a Division II first-team All-America selection and the Mountain East and Atlantic Region Player of the Year. She scored 1,963 points in four seasons at Glenville State.
“I’m a position player, a fast player,” Stone said. “I have an IQ for basketball, and I’ll bring leadership, determination and being a hard-working player. A player that doesn’t take days off, and someone who is a great teammate and who is coachable.”
Winfield, a 5-7 guard from Reading, Pa., averaged 18.1 points and 7.1 rebounds (both team highs), and averaged 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 32 games for the Pioneers. She was a second-team Atlantic Region selection this season for the Pioneers.
“I can do it all,” Winfield said. “I can score, I can drive, I can attack, I can shoot, and I also play defense. I love to play defense.”
Stone and Winfield graduated from Glenville State on Saturday. Stone earned a degree in sports management, and plans to pursue the one-year master’s degree program in education at UB. Winfield earned a degree in biology, and plans to enroll in UB’s master’s program in dentistry.
“In the beginning of our (transfer) process, we didn’t think we would play together again,” Stone said. “We were on our own, talking to other schools, and Becky asked if I wanted to make a visit (to UB) with Zakiyah. That was an amazing feeling, and after the visit, we talked to each other and said, ‘This is a great fit.’ We canceled all our other visits.”
After helping Glenville State win a national title, their next task is to help Burke craft her own mold for a program that’s become one of the best in the MAC.
“It’s something great to be a part of,” Winfield said. “She has a lot of pressure to win, and I think it would be cool to win a championship again. This is a program that’s used to winning. I’ve won championships, I know what it takes to get there and I want to help her get there.”